Page 1: Intro
Irvine, Calif.—No matter what your station in life, the ultra-stylish 2005 Audi A8L is the kind of car that’s liable to make you feel in need of a better wardrobe.
Like a custom-made suit from one of the shops along London’s Saville Row, the A8L manages to turn heads without resorting to the kind of trendy styling that inevitably winds up looking painfully dated after a few short years. And, just as with the work of a master tailor, the essence of the A8L’s appeal is the way your appreciation of it continues to grow over time.
An Expanded Line-Up
Originally launched in June 2003, the Audi A8L has already done its engineers and designers proud. The über-sedan has garnered a host of awards in the 18 months since its introduction, including being named one of the “top 10 cars for CEOs” from the editors of Chief Executive magazine.
For 2005, the familiar long-wheelbase Audi A8L 4.2 is joined at the top of the German automaker’s line-up by two new models. Its A8 little brother rides on a platform that’s been shortened by just over five inches, while its uptown cousin the A8L 6.0 gets an insanely potent 450-horsepower W12 engine. After a week with a V8-powered A8L 4.2 test car, which shares much of its hardware with the two new models, we came away convinced that the original is still the best.
Page 2: Classic Styling
That same fine balance of richness and restraint that characterizes the exterior carries over to the Audi A8L’s passenger cabin. Like a four-wheeled private jet, this big sedan’s blend of comfort, style, and sophistication make it the kind of car that will have driving aficionados looking for excuses to head for the horizon.
As you’d expect, most every interior surface is covered in leather or highly polished wood, with suede-like Alcantara or aluminum-look accents. Where plastics are used, they are of the highest quality and soft to the touch. The A8L’s front seats provide all-day comfort and just the right amount of side bolstering. The car’s standard 16-way power-adjustable front seats and tilt-telescope steering column make it easy for drivers of different sizes to get comfortable. And once you’ve found that personally perfect driving position, four memory presets take the aggravation out of swapping cars with family members.
The front buckets also offer plenty of head, shoulder, and legroom, even for the circumferentially-blessed or vertically-gifted. In the expansive back seat, you’ll find leg room in NBA-star proportions.
Standard lighted vanity mirrors, side- and rear-window sunshades, and an optional four-zone automatic climate control system that allows each outboard occupant to set their own ideal temperature and air flow round out the major back seat amenities. If the Audi A8L weren’t so pleasurable to drive, we suspect many owners would find themselves looking for opportunities to ride in back.
Page 3: MMI
But these shortcomings pale by comparison to the A8L’s sophisticated central command system known in Audi-speak as the Multi Media Interface (MMI). Similar to the iDrive system virtually everyone loves to hate in the latest generation of BMW’s 7- and 5-Series sedans, Audi’s MMI consists of a large central knob surrounded by four buttons you use to navigate through a wide variety of functions from setting radio presets to adjusting the temperature of the optional seat heaters. Even with all the sophisticated systems on these cars, there simply has to be a more intuitive—and less infuriating—way to control them. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope they find it soon.
Out back, the trunk is nothing short of cavernous with a low lift-over height. A power-assisted opening and closing feature is both slick and practical, especially when you have your hands full of grocery bags, dry-cleaning, kids, or all three.
Page 4: Ultimate Power
From the transmission, power is fed to all four wheels via Audi’s standard quattro all wheel-drive system. The system automatically senses slip at any wheel and can route power front to back or side to side to the tires with the best grip on slick surfaces.
Page 5: On The Road
To make things just that much better, the A8L’s rack and pinion steering with speed-variable power assist is amazingly precise and communicative, with just the right amount of weighting and on-center feel. Combined with the car’s standard stability control, the steering and suspension set-up has the very flattering ability to make most anyone feel like a better driver than they probably are. All this wouldn’t amount to much without the means to bring the big car to a safe, sure stop. The A8L’s massive four-wheel antilock discs brakes handle that chore very nicely, delivering excellent pedal feel and impressive stopping power.
Page 6: Airbags Galore
Other safety features include whiplash-reducing “active” head restraints, designed to protect the head and neck of front seat occupants in rear-end collisions. Three-point lap/shoulder belts at all five seating positions and a surprisingly complete first aid kit round out the big sedan’s list of safety equipment.
Page 7: Wrap-Up
Page 8: FAQs
Audi’s MMI consists of a large central knob surrounded by four buttons you use to navigate through a wide variety of functions from setting radio presets to adjusting the temperature of the optional seat heaters. Even with all the sophisticated systems on these cars, there simply has to be a more intuitive—and less infuriating—way to control them. What’s the gas mileage?
EPA fuel economy estimates peg it at 18 city and 24 highway – quite respectable, although filling the 23-gallon tank with pricey premium-grade fuel is bound to be a sobering experience.
What’s the worst thing about the interior?
The raised bottom cushion of the center rear seating position and the substantial floor hump makes the three-place back seat much better suited to just two passengers. Most buyers will also want for a bit more storage space than the shallow trays inside the front seat’s dual center armrests provide.
Page 9: Notes
Engine Size and Type: 4.2-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 335@6500 rpm
Engine Torque: 317@3500 rpm
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): Expect a range from 18/24
Curb Weight: 4,399 lbs.
Competitors: BMW 7-Series, Infiniti Q45, Jaguar XJ8, Lexus LS 430, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Volkswagen Phaeton,
Photos Courtesy of Audi North America